Attention REEF surveyors: keep an eye out for the non-native Regal Demoiselle while surveying in the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) region. The Regal Demoiselle, Neopomacentrus cyanomos, is a damselfish native to a wide area of the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. First reported as an exotic species in the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, recent reports show that the Regal Demoiselle has expanded its non-native range to southeast Florida. The species was reported in the Florida Keys in 2020 and has since moved up Florida's east coast to Blue Heron Bridge near West Palm Beach, where it was reported by a REEF member and surveyor in February. Through a collaborative effort with a team at the United States Geological Survey and Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, the Regal Demoiselle was quickly located and captured alive, operating under a Special Activity License from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The fish is now in quarantine and will soon be on display in the non-native species exhibit at the Frost Museum.
Similar in appearance to the native Brown Chromis, the Regal Demoiselle is distinguished by a yellow or white spot at the rear base of the dorsal fin, a dark spot behind the gill cover, and yellow or pale rear margins on the fins and tail. In contrast, the native Brown Chromis is identified by dark margins on the tail and a dark spot at the base of the pectoral fin. For more information about the Regal Demoiselle, check out this page, which includes a helpful table showing how to tell the difference between it and the native Brown Chromis.
Experts think that the Regal Demoiselle was introduced into the TWA by hitchhiking on oil and gas platforms relocated from their native range. Some experts also believe that the Regal Demoiselle has the potential to place mild competitive pressure on native fishes. It is important to track the spread of the Regal Demoiselle to understand the impacts it may have on native species and habitats. If you see the Regal Demoiselle while doing a REEF survey, be sure to report it by entering it under the "unlisted species" section. Please also report detailed information on the sighting to REEF through the Exotic Species Sighting Form.